RARA-AVIS: 8 MM - Noir or trash?

Etienne Borgers (freeweb@rocketmail.com)
Sat, 16 Oct 1999 21:17:46 -0700 (PDT)

As the list seems to be in a lethargic state for the moment, I suppose that intermissions about films are permitted...

I recently saw '8MM' by director Joel Schumacher, and must admit I liked it a lot, even if this film is not without some defects.

To my surprise, when I was looking last week for more documentation (after having seen the film), I discovered that most of the US critics villipended it with an enthusiasm close to pure hate... The tedious ones just despising the film and its maker in one go.

I personally think that the subject taken for this film (snuf SM movie making) is far from just appealing commercially, I should even say on the contrary. And it is not a myth (unfortunately) as some wants to believe.

So, what is so shocking for these critics...? Filming? Cannot, as it was very good and above normal Hollywood products. Actors? well, even if I consider Cage as underused since a few years, and miscasted most of the time, he is basically a great actor. Apart maybe for 5 minutes, he's doing the most of the central character.

Graphically kinky? Give me a break... Schumacher was clever enough to avoid that major trap. The SM scenes are grim, debilitating, gloomy but certainly not kinky nor graphically explicit.

The script could have been more focused at the end, about his central idea of evil as part of the human race... yes, certainly so. But are we sure that for instance showing Cage for the rest of his life trapping sadistic murderers and killing them in a way that allows him to see them die slowly, could have been acceptable by the public at large...? On the other hand, there were enough "clues" in the film showing Cage was contaminated by the evil. And, fortunately! we escape an explanation involving psycho serial killer(s) or supernatural forces. So, maybe this is Schumaker's sin: he is really not
"deviant-correct" with is bloody film!

And, yes the film did not go to the ultimate end of its purpose and exploration, and it is perhaps the major reproach we could cast. But not as the critics seem to believe, by pointing to the 'lack of credibility' (as per their opinion) of Cage's character. I'm convinced that most of them reacted by fear of the real subject of this film.

There are 3 to 5 minutes unnecessary in this film, but IMO it is a very good Noir film that could have been a great film if a little bit more focused on its subject.

E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries http://www.geocities.com/Athens/6384

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